Environmentalist Helly Tong Opens Her Eco-Friendly Kit Bag

Still only twenty-four, Helly Tong is already a successful model, businesswoman and environmental campaigner. Here she shares seven ecocentric – or just plain essential –items she carries around.

Read on in Vietnamese

“For me, it’s never too late to start having a regard for the environment…as well as for your own health,” Helly Tong (or Tong Khanh Linh) tells us gently but firmly. The 24-year-old is a former ‘hot girl’ and model famous for her exquisite Eastern beauty. Added to that she has an audacious startup spirit that has helped her evolve into an admirably successful businesswoman. Plus, she dedicates a large chunk of her time and efforts to spreading her green, waste-free, ecologically-friendly lifestyle to Vietnamese youth. And so amidst all her wide-ranging art and business projects, not one day goes by when she forgets her mission to try to play her own small part in helping to save the Earth.

Still only twenty-four, Helly Tong is already a successful model, businesswoman and environmental campaigner.

There are her Instagram posts suggesting ways to minimise daily waste. The devoted workshops she organises to help the community reach a balance between mind and lifestyle. And then there are her most recent businesses: The Yen Concept and Lại Đây Refill Station. Throughout all this, she humbly yet eloquently demonstrates her purposefulness towards a greener, healthier and more sustainable habitat. 

The Dot Magazine found Helly hiding amidst the greenery at her favorite co-working space, Toong, at 126 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, in her favourite corner. It was a rare dazzling day in July. And she kindly opened her bag for us for the latest in our series and shared her seven favourite objects right now. Many of them, as you might have guessed, convey positive “green” messages.

1. A Favourite Book: Jacob Klatzkin’s In Praise of Wisdom

“My timetable only allows me limited time to isolate myself from work each day. Instead of overusing social media, I cherish little moments like the waiting time before meetings. That’s when I immerse myself in my beloved books,” Helly Tong explains, showing us In Praise of Wisdom by Jacob Klatzkin. She purchased the book in an antique bookstore in New York. “It’s a philosophy book about living that was first published in 1943,” she adds.

2. Mossy Green-Coloured Notebook and Black Muji Pen

People who have followed Helly for a long time will know she’s been jumping from project to project, striving to instill new every new assignment with her energy and eco-centrism.

“So, a notebook is useful to note down impromptu ideas or even random thoughts,” Helly Tong continues, “it keeps me in the present”. Naturally, she gravitates towards notebooks made with eco-friendly materials, in this case one that’s a mossy-green colour. “It fits my character and style. Green signifies calmness and power at the same time.”

Calling Helly Tong an environmental ambassador is not an exaggeration. She seeks out environmental-friendly options even in the smallest things in life. Helly’s also chosen a specific brand of ballpoint pen not only because of its quality but also due to the fact that “the cross ballpoint is replaceable or refillable and reusable, saving you money and the environment a considerable amount of litter.”

The pen is also a reminder of the time when Helly travelled to Australia to study. On the way, she was stopped at the customs gate for having inadequate paperwork. At that moment, she panicked, fearing she wouldn’t have a pen to complete the customs declaration form. “A customs officer then said to me one thing that lingers on in my mind even until now – being a mature woman means you need to be active and ready for all situations…so carry a pen with you wherever you go. It’s a tiny incident that I’ve thought back on often,” she smiles.

3. A Pair Of Glasses 

It’s not common knowledge that Helly has needed glasses since secondary school – perhaps because she restrains herself from wearing them (besides some meetings and extended periods in front of her laptop). In fact, she’s near-sighted in one eye, while the other has mild astigmatism, so things are not completely black without her glasses. “I used to dote on cat-eye contacts, but I’ve stopped buying them since the start of my minimal lifestyle,” she shares. 

Helly Tong in glasses surrounded by the ecocentric contents of her bag.

4. Reusable Water Bottle

Staying true to her green and waste-free beliefs, Helly Tong can always be spotted with a reusable water bottle either in her bag or in her hand. This is one of the easily accessible solutions to help diminish plastic garbage. It’s also a reminder to stay hydrated. “More than once I’ve scurried back home to get my flask when I’ve left it behind,” she remembers.

5. Tote Bag

Of course, a tote bag is the perfect item to replace plastic bags. Helly’s tote bag is so lightweight and convenient she always carries it around with her, “I’m ready in case I need to buy stuff on the street or in the supermarket. Carrying my tote means I don’t have to use disposable plastic bags that we discard. I believe good habits start with each individual. Then they can quickly spread to the rest of the community,” our ambassador says about her environmental commitment.

6. Red Lipstick

Few girls would leave home without this essential piece of kit. The lipstick. Helly Tong especially loves this charming red lipstick “It helps boost my confidence when my schedule is too swamped to apply makeup properly,” Helly says about her short cut to looking good as she pulls out her worn-out sharp-curved-top lipstick. “Did you know the shape of your lipsticks reveal a lot about you? All my well-worn lipsticks look like this!”

The former hot girl and model dedicates a dollop of her time and efforts to spreading her green, waste-free, ecologically-friendly lifestyle to Vietnamese youth. 

7.    Macbook Laptop 

Being involved in multiple projects requires Helly to be always on the go – “or always in meetings,” she laughs. So a laptop is indispensable to connect with her partners and customers, to arrange her schedule and plan business ideas. “This Macbook is crucial in guaranteeing my everyday workflow.” Helly adds, “I don’t know if I could live without it.”


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